House votes to block exports to Cuban military

Cuba, Embargo, Foreign Relations
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The House on Wednesday rejected a proposal to allow U.S. exports to members of the Cuban military or intelligence service.

The annual appropriations bill for the departments of Commerce and Justice includes a provision that prohibits funds for exports to Cuban military officers and their families. Lawmakers voted 153-273 to keep the language in the spending measure.

Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), the amendment’s sponsor, said the provision was too vague and could essentially limit trade with Cuba due to the number of people who are related to members of the military or intelligence service. 

{mosads}”It hurts American businesses, and it hurts Cubans. Let’s stop living in the past,” Farr said.

But Republicans, including two Cuban-American lawmakers, argued members of the Cuban military and intelligence service who have committed brutal acts should not be the beneficiaries of new economic relations with the U.S.

“These are not the people we should be rewarding with American business,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.). “What I cannot understand is why anyone would want to reward the individuals responsible for the deaths of Americans, for the oppression of the Cuban people and for spying against our country.”

In its Statement of Administration Policy detailing its veto threat against the underlying spending bill, the White House cited the Cuba provision as “non-germane foreign policy restrictions.” Passage of the underlying measure is expected later Wednesday.

Two other House spending bills for fiscal 2016 seek to constrain President Obama’s pursuit of normalized relations with Cuba.

The annual measure funding the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development would prevent licensing of new flights and cruise ship routes to Cuba if they land on or pass through property confiscated by the Castro regime. That bill is expected to reach the House floor later this week.

A third appropriations bill for the State Department unveiled this week would block funding for the creation of a new U.S. Embassy in Cuba. It would also restrict funding to allow the opening of a Cuban Embassy in the U.S.

The Obama administration last week removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

— Rebecca Shabad contributed.

Tags Cuba Cuba–United States relations Sam Farr
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